Archive for category Leadership and Change
She started out as a computer science major fascinated with technology. Today, Hanan Abdel Meguid oversees one of Cairo’s better-known online and mobile technology companies. Noting that the company now has offices around the world, Meguid tells Arabic how she bounced back from failure, how she approaches management, and what advice she would offer to would-be entrepreneurs. “Focus on what you really need to build,” she says.
Oliver Wyman’s Scott McDonald on the Middle East’s Risks and Challenges for Development and Governance
The Middle East continues to see conflict unleashed by the Arab Spring. But there is growth, and regional executives surveyed by global consultancy Oliver Wyman registered confidence in their governments and the economic opportunities at hand. Reflecting on the Arab World’s unique dynamic of business enterprise despite persistent risk, Oliver Wyman’s new president, Scott McDonald – who grew up in the Gulf – tells Arabic Knowledge@Wharton that while the region still faces monumental challenges, it has shown remarkable progress as well.
Despite Yemen‘s international reputation, there are a number of local entrepreneurs who see opportunities in the country, now that it has largely cast aside its political troubles. Munir Ali Daair, chairman of a family business operating in the oil and gas industry, is among those Yemenis touting enterprise and innovation as a new way forward for the country. Speaking to Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, Munir Ali Daair sees prospects in Yemen’s economy for growth, particularly if it better manages its natural resources. “The future of Yemen will not be built on donations. The future of Yemen will be built on partnerships,” he says.
The way to tackle poverty in Africa is simple, soleRebels’ founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu tells Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: Give people good-paying jobs that they can take pride in. That guiding principle has turned the Ethiopian entrepreneur’s footwear company into a global success. Billing itself as “Africa’s Nike,” the company sells its environmentally friendly, fair trade products around the world in stores and through major retailers. Alemu herself has garnered numerous accolades. “It’s just great business to treat people as I would want to be treated. Once you apply that ethos, it’s pretty easy to always find yourself doing the right thing.”
When Salman Khan first started posting YouTube videos teaching math, he did so to tutor his cousin in Louisiana. He never knew these clips would gain a cult following, and that he would become an Internet sensation as a result.
After gaining hundreds of thousands of viewers, he founded the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit educational organization offering a wide variety of free video tutorials on subjects such as math, computer science, physics and art history. When Khan spoke at a recent TED Global conference, he confessed to his audience: “I was an analyst at a hedge fund. It was strange for me to do something of social value.” But Khan Academy has done exactly that in the world of online education, particularly for the K-12 student.
Part of the Khan Academy’s mission is to make its content available to students all over the world; one-third of Khan Academy users are from outside the United States. In order to do that, many of the videos have been translated into multiple languages, overseen by the Khan Academy’s dean of translations, Bilal Musharraf.
Musharraf spoke with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton about the plans for Arabic learning, and further offerings online. “Wherever you are, whatever information you know right now, you can start learning, and you can become the master of a domain,” he says.
From the interview:
Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: Is Chinese the most popular language [on Khan Academy]?
Musharraf: In terms of subtitles, yes. In terms of foreign language, Chinese has the most subtitles. Arabic has a pretty decent number as well. I think we have about 500 to 600 videos subtitled in Arabic. Around 20% of the library is subtitled in Arabic.
As far as voice translations, that’s a much more challenging task. We’re on the lookout for people who not only have a voice talent and commitment level to dub or redo videos, showing a certain degree of quality across the subject.
Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: These are volunteer translators?
Musharraf: Yes. Every now and then, we’ve had an organization step forward and take ownership to do bulk translation in a language. That’s happened in Arabic by the way. That’s happened in Spanish. That’s happened in Portuguese.
Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: Some of it has been with a company and some of it has been through crowd-sourced volunteers?
Musharraf: I would say it has mostly been foundations or nonprofit organizations that have taken ownership of this. They’ve structured a project and they have enlisted volunteers to do that. They have a much more established network of volunteers domestically where they’re based. So they’re able to do that.
Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: One-third of the users are already outside the U.S. Do you know how many users are there in total and in how many countries?
Musharraf: Right now, our traffic is 6 million unique visitors per month from all over the word, literally from every country in the world.
Arabic Knowledge@Wharton: You can store Khan Academy info on a USB stick. How does that get shared? Do you send those out? Does someone with access to the Khan videos copy them to a USB stick and share it with others?
Musharraf: Right now, our focus is online and connectivity and making sure we’ve fine-tuned what the personalized, interactive, online experience is all about. But in time, we’ve certainly talked about and we’re very cognizant of the need of making this experience offline. If we can create a way to make our online content available while a user is off-line and able to talk to the online server, but that’s in the future. Right now, the team has its hands full.
Read the full interview on Arabic Knowledge@Wharton
With just $US30 in his pocket, Peter Sage decided to strike out on his own, dropping out of school at 16, and selling toys for a living. His entrepreneurial journey eventually led him to start more than 20 businesses. By Sage’s own admission, some were failures, others successes, and some he doesn’t even want to talk about.
“The defining characteristic of an entrepreneur is the ability to handle uncertainty,’ Sage tells attendees at the Dubai Tech Nights event in the city’s downtown area.
A monthly networking event and talkfest, Dubai Tech Nights brings together IT enthusiasts, aspiring entrepreneurs, and industry mentors in a bid to try and emulate the creative spirit of America’s tech center, Silicon Valley. Nestled in beanbags, attendees listen to stories of how entrepreneurs eke out a living from their passion. They are there to learn how to avoid the pitfalls of launching a start-up, running a company or just exploring the idea of being an entrepreneur.
Sage recounts how almost every venture he launched had an uncertain future, from health clubs to property investments. His latest project, Space Energy, is an attempt to commercialize space-based solar power.
He is driven a by passion for ideas and turning them into businesses. And attendees at the Dubai Tech Nights are looking for inspiration and leads on how create a viable business from an idea, how to recruit the right people, and how to manage risk, among other things.
Sage says he learned how to deal with risks by learning to skydive. After some hours of training on the basics of jumping out of a plane, a spot had opened up in a group that was planning to skydive. Up at 12,000 feet, Sage saw how a fellow student was planning to make his first jump ever. The student hesitated and stayed inside the plane with a frozen look of fear on his face. So the instructor had to nudge him out. After watching the student fumble, Sage’s turn came. He stood near the edge and just jumped. “The second I stepped out of the plane, the fear was gone because I was in the moment and I was already committed,’ Sage says.
Read the analysis on Arabic Knowledge@Wharton
“We discovered our students react far better and they become great learners once you raise their bar. We have our annual conference every September and last year our theme was “Going Forward, Raising the Bar.” A lot of what we were teaching in the past few years, it’s becoming easy for our students. The skills that we were teaching them, it’s no longer as challenging. So what we are doing is (asking) how can we challenge our students to a higher level of learning, so that they can be satisfied in terms of the knowledge they acquire from us. At the same time, when they are so rich in knowledge, they can be great producers when they take responsibilities in the real world.”
Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) vice chancellor Dr. Tayeb Kamali in an interview with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton.
“It’s well known that immigrants actually foster trade between the country they moved from and the country they moved to. You can imagine most of the linkages across these different categories are positive. It’s actually not that difficult to imagine the order of magnitude turning to 10% of GDP, and that’s a huge number. Policy makers are desperately scrabbling around for growth.”
- Economist and professor Pankaj Ghemawat in an interview with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton.
“There is a sense that there are a lot more women in biology than physics, for example, where there are hardly any women students or teachers. Engineering is a little lower than that. Biology is where women have taken off. That’s the discipline of the future, largely because of biomedical applications and other implications.”
- Mary Anne Fox, chancellor of the University of California, San Diego.
Read the full interview: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2859
The types of mavericks I talk about in my article are popularly known, names such as Sir Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. They are world famous and they’ve accomplished the most amazing things. However, when we use these famous examples over and over, it seems as if this is something that only one in a million people ever have the opportunity to be. We argue that this is not the case. Being creative, taking risks, breaking rules, and being goal focused are traits a lot of people actually have but they don’t always have the same scale of results, which makes them less well known. So it is possible to have on a smaller scale, mavericks within organizations. They aren’t the Richard Branson’s but they have similar qualities. I think that this line of thinking is much more practical and useful for practitioners interested in hiring innovative people on their team and developing the workers they already have.